Is Ritual a Tool for Resilience?

Connor Wood: I explored whether cultural ritual and non-empirical beliefs may be under-appreciated ways of dampening our exploitation of natural resources, by lessening the efficiency of our human economies. The word “resilience” is used in a lot of different ways. In psychology, it refers to individuals’ ability to respond adaptively to stressors — to bounce back from setbacks, traumas, or negative events. In environmental science, by contrast, the ecologist C.S. Holling famously described resilience in terms of adaptive flexibility in complex natural systems. In my work on religion and cultural resilience, I have in mind something closer to Holling’s view. Instead of focusing on the ability of social systems to “bounce back” and return to previous states, I’m interested in the ways that they change in order to keep persisting.

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